Corn is one of those funky foods. Though it definitely comes from a plant species, corn is technically a grain despite sometimes morphing into common usage as a vegetable. This all depends on how it's processed, prepared, and eaten. Hands down, most Americans consider it a vegetable because we eat it by the ton in its kernel form: either on or cut from the cob, or popped into the quintessential movie house snack. Yet we tend to take it for granted as flour starch to thicken our gravies, or as meal to bake up those marvelously crumbly muffins which brighten our breakfast tables. No Southern U.S. menu would be complete without yet another refinement of grain corn: the much-beloved, porridge-dense grits.
Spoonbread, the moist pudding casserole, a cross between cornbread and grits, is another Southern specialty that epitomizes comfort and more than a little indulgence in butter. Although spoonbread can be enjoyed as a savory without any embellishments, I've chosen to prepare it as a sweet, emphasizing some of the special flavors and textures of autumn. No matter what recipe you use, though, remember to serve and eat it with a spoon. They don't call it spoonbread for nothing.
Spoonbread with Maple Syrup, Walnuts, and Golden Raisins - My own recipe
Yields 4 generous servings.
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Ingredients for Spoonbread
1 cup yellow or white corn meal
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 cups whole or 2% fat milk
1 cup skim milk
3 tablespoons melted butter
2 eggs, beaten well by hand or with mixer until frothy in a small bowl
Method for Spoonbread
Preheat oven to 400 ° F
Grease a 2-quart, ovenproof casserole dish. Reserve.
In a large, bowl whisk all dry ingredients together until thoroughly mixed. Add wet ingredients one by one, beating well after each addition. Pour into prepared dish, then position on middle oven rack. Bake for approximately 25 minutes or until top has risen slightly and browned. This is not a soufflé-style spoonbread; do not expect it to expand substantially. Test center with a skewer. You don't want the skewer to be clean when withdrawn, but it should not be runny, either. Aim for moist and hot. Remove from oven to a cooling rack. Add toppings (recipe below), and serve immediately while still hot.
Ingredients for Topping
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
3/4 cup golden raisins (brown raisins or dried currants can also be used)
1 heaping teaspoon very fresh ground cinnamon
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
Method for Topping
In a large skillet over medium heat, toss walnuts, raisins, and cinnamon until mixed. Stir occasionally until walnuts are lightly toasted and cinnamon becomes more fragrant. (About 4 minutes.) Remove from heat. Warm maple syrup briefly on stove top over low heat or in microwave. Drizzle evenly onto spoonbread. Immediately top with walnut, raisins, and cinnamon mixture, pressing down slightly with the back of a wooden spoon.
This recipe is for Weekend Herb Blogging #306, hosted by me. I expect to have the round-up online tomorrow evening, October 24, New York time. Thanks to all who have participated. Special thanks to Haalo of Cook Almost Anything at Least Once, who continues to make these recipe compilations possible every week.
The wonderful cook and photographer, Lynne of Cafe Lynnylu, has now officially taken the reigns to host WHB #307. She will be happy to welcome your recipe posts through most of next weekend. Please consult Haalo's WHB pages for full details.
See you tomorrow night!